Darwin Then and Now: Who Was Charles Darwin?
The Legacy of an Evolutionary Biologist.

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico / Chico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.]; 530-898-6824 [FAX]
e-mail: curbanowicz@csuchico.edu
home page: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban

25 October 2001 [1]

[This page printed from http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinForum2001.html]

© [All Rights Reserved.] For a presentation [with videotape and slides] on October 25, 2001 at the combined "Anthropology Forum" and CAPE [Center for Applied and Professional Ethics] session at California State University, Chico.

1859 -> 1959


While I have been interested in Charles R. Darwin (February 12, 1809 - April 19, 1882) for decades (from a documented date in 1965!), I have been "doing" Darwin in the first person for years. The first Anthropology Forum wherein I portrayed Darwin was on October 4, 1990 with the title being "Charles R. Darwin: My Life and My Times." I have always tried to add something "new" to each presentation because there are often "repeat" attendees in the audience and I am always there: I also like new ideas and information! I have given numerous classroom lectures concerning "Darwin" (the most recent of which was in Spring 2001) and am constantly amazed how his ideas have an impact on our times to date! I add new information, re-read old information, and, I constantly learn something new.

One year ago today, in this very room (on October 26, 2000), I made a presentation entitled "Charlie On Darwin: Urbanowicz On Darwin (1809-1882)" for a joint CELT (The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching) and Anthropology Forum presentation. I am almost running out of variations on "titles" in presenting and writing about Darwin! In addition to presenting something "new" everytime, I also look for a "hook" to a Darwin-related event (in order to make Darwin more "human and real" to the audience); on October 22, 1825, Charles Darwin signed the "matriculation book" at Edinburgh University, Scotland and one year ago I pointed out the following:

October 26, 1825, Charles R. Darwin attended his first lecture at Edinburgh University as a medical student. R.B. Freeman, 1978, Charles Darwin: A Companion (Folkestone, Kent, England: Dawson), page 98.



Why does Charles R. Darwin make such an impact to date? Born into a relatively wealthy family in Shrewsbury, England (at a period of time when there were other 19th century luminaries), why should anyone care about Charles R. Darwin? Why would some individuals "rank" Charles Darwin as one of the most "important" individuals of the past 1,000 years?

FROM: USA Today, January 4, 1999: "The idea was simple. Sit around and pick the 1,000 most important people of the millenium. ... [#1] Johannes Gutenberg (1394?-1468) Inventor of printing.... [#5] William Shakespeare (1564-1616) 'Mirror of the millennium's soul'.... [#6] Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Laws of motion helped propel the Age of Reason.... [#7] Charles Darwin (1809-1882) Theory of Evolution [stress added]." From the book by Barbara and Brent Bowers & Agnes Hooper Gottlieb and Henry Gottlieb, 1998, 1,000 People: Ranking The Men And Women Who Shaped The Millennium (NY: Kodansha International).

Gutenberg (among others) provided us the relatively inexpensive way to distribute the printed word, Shakespeare provided us with timeless words, and Darwin provided us with meaningful words and ideas for his time as well as our time, and serves as a bridge into the future! Incidentally, it should be obvious to many that "Darwin" is not appreciated by many! Consider the words of Timothy H. Goldsmith, writing in his 1991 publication entitled The Biological Roots of Human Nature: Forging Links Between Evolution and Behavior (NY: Oxford University Press):

"More than a century after Charles Darwin called attention to one of the most exciting and unifying concepts in the whole of science, the teaching of evolution continues to be greeted with formidable resistance. In the entire sweep of scientific knowledge, only evolutionary biology is the object of political regulation in the public schools, justified by tiresome repetition of the words of William Jennings Bryan [1860-1925] that, after all, evolution is 'only a theory. Moreover, that after half a century has passed a President of the United States can still utter the same phrase with conviction is testimony to the fact that the lay public's understanding of evolution remains in a primitive condition [stress added]." Timothy H. Goldsmith, 1991, The Biological Roots of Human nature: Forging Links Between Evolution and Behavior (NY: Oxford University Press), pages 3-4.

Such is part of the legacy of Charles Darwin!

Incidentally, in my work on Darwin I tend to concentrate on the intellectual history of the times and who influenced whom: I do not get into the nuances of current "evolutionary biology" since that is, indeed, a specialization in-and-of itself! Consider the words of Richard Morris, from his recent (and most readable) 2001 publication entitled The Evolutionists: The Struggle for Darwin's Soul: "Evolutionary biology is a science in ferment. It is a field in which new discoveries are being made at an ever-increasing rate, a field in which controversies abound" (page 235). Elsewhere he pointed out that "Darwin's theory of evolution is universally accepted among biologists. However Darwin's 'theory' is not a single idea; some scientists have broken it down into five or more subtheories. Thus it is possible for scientists to agree on many details of the theory while arguing about others" (page 3). Morris writes that the essence of the debate is as follows:

"According to the noted British geneticist John Maynard Smith, Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould is 'a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with.' Oxford University Zoologist Richard Dawkins, author of the best-selling The Selfish Gene [1976 and second editions of 1989], charges that Gould's view of evolution is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett goes further. According to Dennett, Gould is a 'would-be-revolutionary' who has mounted a series of attacks on conventional Darwinism over the years. Furthermore Dennett says, as the best-known writer of evolutionary topics, Gould has had an influence that is 'immense and distorting.' Gould must have some 'hidden agenda,' Dennet speculates. Perhaps it is Gould's Marxists leanings, he says, that have caused him to attack evolutionary theory [stress added]." Richard Morris, 2001, The Evolutionists: The Struggle for Darwin's Soul (NY: W.H. Freeman & Co.), page 1.

I have my own concerns with Stephen J. Gould's words, as I have written on other occasions. Gould (born in 1941) consistently omits Charles R. Darwin's reference to the "Creator" in his own writings. In a 1993 publication Gould ended his essay entitled "Shoemaker And Morning Star" as follows:

"And I remembered that Charles Darwin had drawn the very same contrast in the final lines of the Origin of Species. When asking himself, in one climactic paragraph, to define the essence of the differences between life and the inanimate cosmos, Darwin chose the directional character of evolution vs. the cyclic repeatability of our clockwork solar system [and Gould then quotes the following from Darwin]: 'There is a grandeur in this view of life.... [these "...." are placed by Gould in his quote, which continues as follows] Whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.'" Stephen J. Gould, 1993, Shoemaker And Morning Star. Eight Little Piggies: Reflections In Natural History, pp. 206-217, pages 216-217.

Gould must have had a reason for not mentioning Darwin's reference to the "Creator," but it is not obvious to the casual reader. Why does Gould not quote from editions two (1860) through six (1872)? The Darwin statement (in the final chapter) in all editions of Origin after 1860 published in his lifetime is as follows:

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object of which we are capable of conceiving, namely the production of higher animals directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator [stress added] into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Returning to the intellectual debate documented by Morris in The Evolutionists: The Struggle for Darwin's Soul, he writes:

"Gould, on the other hand, brands Maynard Smith, Dawkins, and Dennett as 'Darwin fundamentalists,' who place an emphasis on one component of Charles Darwin's thinking and 'push their line with an almost theological fervor.' Maynard Smith, he says, has apparently gotten caught up in an 'apocalyptic ultra-Darwinian fervor.' Dennett's writings, he adds, are characterized by 'hint, innuendo, false attribution and error.' If the Victorian era British biologist T.E. [sic.] Huxley [1825-1895] had been 'Darwin's Bulldog,' Gould concludes, then perhaps Dennett should be characterized as 'Dawkin's lapdog' [stress added]." Richard Morris, 2001, The Evolutionists: The Struggle for Darwin's Soul (NY: W.H. Freeman & Co.), pages 1-2.

Who says scientists are neutral and without interesting and conflicting personalities?!



Charles Darwin's first college experience was in Scotland. The contemporary United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island consists of the Principality of Wales and the Kingdom of Scotland. In 1603 the Scottish King James VI (1566-1625) succeeded to the English Crown after the death of Elizabeth I (1533-1603) and in 1707 Scotland officially became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain. In the early 19th century, when Dr. Robert Darwin (1768-1844) was considering a college for his son Charles, Edinburgh was the natural choice: Robert Darwin had attended Edinburgh as well as his father, the distinguished Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802):

"The Doctor had decided on Edinburgh University for Charles, the 'Northern Athens.' It was the family tradition. He would be a third-generation Darwin to study medicine here, following his father and grandfather. ... Edinburgh was better equipped, better staffed, and offered better hospital facilities than the cloistered English universities. It turned out not only better-educated MDs than Oxford and Cambridge, but vastly more of them." Adrian Desmond & James Moore, 1991, Darwin (NY: Warner Books), pages 21-22.

As the capital and largest city of Scotland, Edinburgh was the center of what has been termed the "Scottish Enlightenment" and Scottish education was outstanding: "Scotsmen boasted of their superiority in this respect" (John W. Derry, 1963, A Short History of Nineteenth-Century England [NY: Mentor], page 67).

"Edinburgh was called 'the northern Athens' because, like the Athens of ancient Greece, it was a cosmopolitan center of learning. Free thought and new ideas were tolerated there more than in England because Scottish intellectual life was not dominated by religion. Students and teachers at the English universities in Cambridge and Oxford were required to announce their belief in the state religion, the Church of England, which was not only one of the pillars of the English monarchy but also a powerful unifying force in society. In England, the church discouraged speculation about the age of the earth or the history of living things, claiming that such matters were properly explained by the Bible, not by science. But students and teachers in Scotland were not bound by an official religion. Furthermore, Scotland had long had close cultural and political ties with Grance, home of some of the most innovative philosophers and scientists of the 18th century, and Edinburgh's intellectual life was enriched by the presence of teachers from Paris and elsewhere in Europe."

"Edinburgh, with its free-thinking atmosphere, was a hotbed of activity in geology, the study of the earth, and biology, the study of life. Physicians, writers, philosophers, and naturalists from all over Great Britain, Europe, and even the United States gathered in Edinburgh. To the end of his life Charles Darwin remembered seeing the [Haitian-]American naturalist John James Audubon [1785-1851], dressed in the rough clothes of a backwoodsman, with his black hair streaming over his collar, demonstrating the proper way to mount a stuffed bird. All in all, Edinburgh was a heady, stimulating place for a young man beginning to explore the world of ideas and science [stress added]." Rebecca Stetoff, 1996, Charles Darwin And The Evolution Revolution (Oxford University Press), pages 25-26.

In his fascinating 2001 publication entitled Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming [1827-1915] and the Creation of Standard Time (NY: Pantheon Books, page 118), Clark Blaise wrote the following about certain institutions: "Oxford and Cambridge had been disastrously slow to introducing science and engineering courses to their curricula." By the 1850s this had changed and in his fascinating 1994 publication entitled Huxley: From Devil's Discipline to Evolution's High Priest (Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley) Adrian Desmond writes as follows:

"The Northern Athens was in decline. Its own tartan army of graduates had marched south to found the London University, now a federal colossus drawing students from the four corners. For them, as for Huxley, London was 'the centre of the world.'" Adrian Desmond, 1994, Huxley: From Devil's Discipline to Evolution's High Priest (Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley), page 206.

Charles R. Darwin made the most of his life and was constantly observing the world; first as a student, then on his five-year voyage (1831-1836) on HMS Beagle around the globe. Incidentally, it is with hindsight we deservedly praise Charles Darwin; consider the fact, however, that his father became frustrated with him, stating on one occasion that "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and your family" (Julian Huxley and H.B.D. Kettlewell, 1965, Charles Darwin And His World, page 16). Charles Darwin himself was not enamoured of formal education, as Thomas Henry Huxley once wrote:

"Nevertheless, Darwin found on board the 'Beagle' that which neither the pedagogues of Shrewsbury, nor the professoriate of Edinburgh, nor the tutors of Cambridge had managed to give him. 'I have always felt that I owe to the voyage the first real training or education of my mind (I. p. 61 [Life And Letters];' and in a letter written as he was leaving England, he calls the voyage on which he was just starting, with just insight, his 'second life.' (I.p.214) Happily for Darwin's education, the school time of the 'Beagle' lasted five years instead of two; and the countries which the ship visited were singularly well fitted to provide him with object-lessons, on the nature of things, of the greatest value [stress added]." Thomas Henry Huxley, 1881, Obituary. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Vol. 44; reprinted in Thomas H. Huxley, 1896, Darwiniana Essays [1970: New York AMS Reprint], pages 253-302, pages 270-271.

Earlier in the same item Huxley wrote the following about the young Darwin and his college days:

"No doubt Darwin picked up a great deal of valuable knowledge during his two years' residence in Scotland; but it is equally clear that next to none of it came through the regular channels of academic education. Indeed, the influence of the Edinburgh professoriate appears to have been mainly negative, and in some cases deterrent; creating in his mind, not only a very low esteem of the value of lectures, but an antipathy to the subjects which had been the occasion of the boredom inflicted upon him by their instrumentality [stress added]." Thomas Henry Huxley, 1881, Obituary. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Vol. 44; reprinted in Thomas H. Huxley, 1896, Darwiniana Essays [1970: New York AMS Reprint], pages 253-302, page 260.

It is to our distinct advantage that Darwin persevered, observed, made notes, and communicated his views; incidentally, communication is as important today as it was in the past, for on October 26, 1832 (while still on HMS Beagle), Charles Darwin wrote in his diary:

"The day has been very cloudy: but what are clouds & gloom to those who have just heard from their friends at home." Nora Barlow, 1933, Charles Darwin's Diary Of The Voyage Of H.M.S. "Beagle" (Edited from the MS by Nora Barlow), (Cambridge: University Press), page 108. 

In re-reading some items for today, I also discovered a note from Darwin on October 25, 1838 (for he was always observing and making note of life):

"Octob. 25th. I observed in Windsor Park. -- the <<Fallow>> Deer. which were of a nearly uniform <dusky> blackish brown.--yet retained a trace of horizontal mark on flank.; & tail. & kind of semilunar [] mark on each side darker, so that whole colour is changed, these best marked characters are partly retained, therefore colous vary in same Manner as they would vary, if in wild state; thus mark on ear of cats, colour can be brownish." Paul H. Barrett et al., 1987, Charles Darwin's Notebooks, 1836-1844, Geology, Transmutation of Species, Metaphysical Enquiries (British Museum/Cornell University Press), page 405.

In this exceptional 747-page volume one can trace Darwin's research techniques and see that he wasted very little time! Charles R. Darwin lived a full and rich life and in seeking to "humanize" him for my classes I would also like to think that I encourage individuals to read Darwin themselves (and not simply what others say about him, including this author/presenter!) In addition to one (or more) of the editions of Origin, if one can only read only three Darwin-related items, I would suggest:

#1. Charles Darwin, 1887, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, With original omissions restored Edited with Appendix and Notes by his grand-daughter Nora Barlow, 1958 (NY: W.W. Norton 1969 edition)
#2. Jonathan Miller and Borin Van Loon, 1982, Darwin for Beginners (New York: Pantheon Books)
#3. Jonathan Weiner, 1994, The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time (New York: Vintage Books)


1859 -> 1959

When I discovered the theme and title of the CAPE [Center for Applied and Professional Ethics] theme, I honestly thought that an appropriate title could be "Darwin At the 31st Century" or even "Darwin in 2101" for I venture to say that "someone" will be reading "something" about Darwin "somewhere" 100 or 1000 years from now! The advantage of making long-range "predictions, such as 100 or 1000 years, is that the predictor will not be around to answer to his or her predictions; alas, if one merely makes predictions one-two-or-three years into the future, watch it! As The Wall Street Journal published in 1999:

"Whatever the controversies that surround him, Charles Darwin was certainly the most important natural scientist of the past century; he may become the most important social scientist of the next. His great insight--that humans are animals and that their behavior, like that of all animals, is shaped by evolution--is now making its way into social theory. In economics, linguistics, anthropology and psychology, scholars are attempting to see how our evolved nature, interacting with particular environments, generates the ways we trade and speak, live with others and with ourselves [stress added]." The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 1999, page A24.

Alan Rauch published (2001) a very interesting book entitled Useful Knowledge: The Victorians, Morality And The March of Intellect (Durham: Duke University Press) and in it he writes the following:

"Darwin's theory neatly summed up a view of the natural world that did not privilege any living thing over another. Instead, all organisms (including, by implication, humans) were subject to the physical forces of nature and, of course, to each other. Combined with new perspectives on space, time, and matter, this view removed man from centrality in the universe. The age-old idea that man was a creature revered by nature and favored by God could no longer be professed without serious misgivings. But Darwin's impact is also striking because of the manner in which he helped create this new worldview. By accumulating bits of knowledge from here and there and assembling them in the encyclopedic Origin to form his evolutionary argument, Darwin demonstrated that knowledge was itself material. 23 [Note. 23: "The material that Darwin uses in Origin is nothing if not eclectic, relying on a familiar but odd assemblage of organisms, including pigeons, dogs, elephants, and local crops. It is thus a catalog of life that resists the exotic species described in the Voyage of the Beagle [stress added]." Alan Rauch, 2001, Useful Knowledge: The Victorians, Morality And The March of Intellect (Durham: Duke University Press), pages 12 and 207-208.

Darwin is important, and understanding of the "history" that goes into an understanding of Darwin is also important! As Steven Rose has written:

"While it is the case, as the population geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky [1900-1975] put it, that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, his claim requires extension. Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of history--the evolutionary history of the species, the developmental history of the individual living organism, and, for humans, of course, social, cultural and technological history. To this must be added the history of our own sciences, which provides the framing assumptions within which we attempt to view and interpret the world [stress added]." Steven Rose, 2000, Escaping Evolutionary Psychology. Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology, edited by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose (NY: Harmony Books), pages 299-320, pages 307-308.

In 1859, Darwin published the first edition of his monumental work, namely On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (this is the on-line version of the first edition of 1859 edition). Note the changes Darwin made in the SIX editions of Origin during his lifetime (as calculated by Morse Peckham [Editor], 1959, The Origin Of Species By Charles Darwin: A Variorum Text):




9 eliminated
483 rewritten
30 added
7 %
33 eliminated
617 rewritten
266 added
14 %
36 eliminated
1073 rewritten
435 added
21 %
178 eliminated
1770 rewritten
227 added
29 %
63 eliminated
1699 rewritten
571 added
21-29 %

In 1959 (a coincidence?) the distinguished British author and scientist Charles P. Snow (1905-1980) published the celebrated The Two Cultures and The Scientific Revolution. The essence of what he wrote was as follows:

"In our society (that is, advanced Western Society) we have lost even the pretence of a common culture. Persons educated with the greatest intensity we know can no longer communicate with each other on the plane of their major intellectual concern. This is serious for our creative, intellectual and, above all, our moral life. It is leading us to interpret the past wrongly, to misjudge the present and to deny our hopes of the future. It is making it difficult or impossible for us to take good action [stress added]." C.P. Snow, 1964, The Two Cultures: And A Second Look (NY: Mentor), page 59.  

I argue that the success, popularity, and impact of the works of Charles R. Darwin are due to the fact that (#1) he was the first individual to successfully bridge two (or more!) cultures in his 19th century and (#2) his 19th century words connect with the 20th/21st centuries and still make sense! Please note that Diana Postlethwaite, in her eminently readable 1984 publication entitled Making It Whole: A Victorian Circle And The Shape Of Their World (Columbus: Ohio State University Press), began as follows:

"In the Victorian age, the humanist and the scientist still spoke a common language. A logician could read contemporary poetry; a novelist could debate the latest development in evolutionary theory. The increasingly alienated discourses of the twentieth century...." Diana Postlethwaite, 1984, Making It Whole: A Victorian Circle And The Shape Of Their World (Columbus: Ohio State University Press), page xi.

Charles R. Darwin wrote in a "common language" of the times that (#1) was understood by both the romantic and the scientist and was adapted to fit certain Victorian ideas ("Social Darwinism"); not only were Darwin's words "understood" in the 19th century, but (#2) the "timelessness" of his ideas makes us read and re-read him to the 21st (or 31st) century. Darwin was, perhaps (#1) the first individual to successfully bridge the gap between the two cultures and (#2) was perhaps (somewhat incongruously) the last individual to do so! Darwin had the good fortune to be on the "cusp" of the times and also change the paradigm of his times! I agree with the aforementioned work of Alan Rauch, but may go beyond him in when suggesting that Darwin was "perhaps" the last individual to bridge the gap between "two" (or more) cultures! Rauch's book is recommended and he states that Charles Darwin:

"...is a convenient figure who represents a transition of sorts in the growth of nineteenth-century knowledge. As something on an encyclopedist of nature, he found a compelling way in which to tie previously loose ends together and to make what were once disparate elements of knowledge cohere [stress added]." Alan Rauch, 2001, Useful Knowledge: The Victorians, Morality And The March of Intellect (Durham: Duke University Press), page 204.



Darwin was important and we remember him for what he did in the past and what he suggests for the future. Consider Blaise again:

"Everywhere a Briton looked in the 1850s (except perhaps in the Crimea, or the Black Hole of Calcutta) he [and she!] had seen reflections of British glory. Science and industry. Empire and Progress. Charles Kingsley [1819-1875], one of the most influential of Victorian progressives, had written of his emerging generation in 1851: 'The various stereotype systems which they have received by tradition are breaking up under them like ice in a thaw, [and] a thousand facts and notions, which they know not how to classify, are pouring in on them like a flood.' Difficult scientific texts, like Darwin's On the Origin of Species, were immediate best-sellers, and scientists communicated social ideas for the educated common reader through scientific prose, without compromise. Progressive thinkers regularly shared their idea's in workingmen's halls [stress added]." Clark Blaise, 2000, Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming [1827-1915] and the Creation of Standard Time (NY: Pantheon Books), pages 116-117.

In the very next sentence, the author added: "It didn't last." I argue that Darwin was the perfect individual at that point in time to (#1) adequately and accurately summarize that which had gone before and (#2) provide a framework for understanding his times and (#3) moving into our "present" and the future. Unfortunately, Charles Darwin is also associated with "Social Darwinism" (which really should be called "Social Spencerism" after Herbert Spencer [1820-1903]. Darwin borrowed the phrase "survival of the fittest" from Spencer but the phrase did not appear in the first edition of Origin in 1859 but was only incorporated for the first time in 1869 in the 5th edition of Origin. It appears in my copy of sixth edition of 1872 as follows:

"I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man's power of selection. But the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer, of the Survival of the Fittest, is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient." [Chapter XV: "Recapitulation And Conclusion"]

As one author has written:

"One of the intellectual strands of the last thirty years of the nineteenth century which contributed to the intellectual and moral acceptance of imperialist ideas was social Darwinism. Charles Darwin's Origin of the [sic.] Species had been first published in 1859. Its influence was wide-ranging and many sided, and when mixed with the evolutionary social theory of Herbert Spencer, there was produced social Darwinism. While there were varying interpretations of the general doctrine, in the context of the present discussion, social Darwinism provided the rationale for the survival of the fittest nation or race in the struggle between different nationalisms, or in the domination of the progressive white races over the backward coloured peoples." John Saville, 1988, Imperialism and the Victorians. In Search of Victorian Values: Aspects of Nineteenth-Century Thought and Society, edited by Eric M. Sigworth (Manchester: Manchester University Press), pages 162-178, pages 169-170.

And yet another:

"In the late nineteenth century the popular understanding of evolution became permeated by social Darwinism, a philosopher most closely identified with Herbert Spencer [1820-1903], who was energetically adapting Darwin's theories to fit his own political views. Spencer thought females never had been inherently equal to males and could never be; subordination of women was not only natural but, in his view, desirable [stress added]." Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, 1981, 1999, The Woman That Never Evolved: With A New Preface and Bibliographical Updates (Harvard University Press), pages 12-13.

None of us can be sure how we influence others and selective reading takes place everywhere. Changes and decisions took place in the 19th century, as well as the 20th, and 21st; as Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote in his own celebrated 1859 publication, A Tale of Two Cities:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going the other way." (A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 1.)

Every generation finds it difficult to believe that that which comes after the present generation might in fact be better than that which is happening right now and change is the natural order of things. Consider if you will the following words:

"Nobody who has paid any attention to the peculiar features of our present era, will doubt for moment we are living at a period of most wonderful transition which tends rapidly to accomplish that great end, to which indeed, all history points--realization of the unity of mankind. . . . The distances which separated the different nations and parts of the globe are rapidly vanishing before the achievements of modern invention, and we can traverse them with incredible ease; the languages of all nations are known, and their acquirement placed within the reach of everybody; thought is communicated with the rapidity, and even by the power, of lightning. On the other hand, the great principle of the division of labor, which may be called the moving power of civilization, is being extended to all branches of science, industry, and art. . . . The products of all quarters of the globe are placed at our disposal, and we have only to choose which is the best and cheapest for our purposes, and the powers of production are entrusted to the stimulus of competition and capital [stress added]."

These words come not from 2001 but from the May 1, 1851 Inaugural Address of the Prince Consort Albert (1819-1861), on the occasion of the opening of the "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations" held in London (Michael Sorkin, 1992, Variations On A Theme Park: The New American City And The End of Public Space, page 209).

In 1998 a fascinating book appeared entitled The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers (NY: Berkley Books) by Tom Standage. While we may think that "we" live in the most "modern" of ages, Standage's title should give one pause; likewise, consider some of his closing words dealing with Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 - October 18, 1931):

"But, ironically, it was the improvements that he [Thomas Alva Edison] and other inventors devised that would eventually lead to the demise of the telegraph and the community that had grown up around it; for any industry founded on a particular technology faces the danger that a new invention will render it obsolete [stress added]." The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers (NY: Berkley Books), page 180.

If one is "biologically-aware" one also knows this to be true! Too much specialization can lead to extinction if the environment changes and please consider the following about the "new economy" and dot-com bombs, failures, fiascoes, or fiscal melt-downs: "According to one Darwin expert, being fit, smart and strong all matter, but the species that thrive are the ones that are most adaptable [stress added]." Bob Rosner, 2001, The San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, April 22, 2001, page CL11; and consider the following earlier in 2001:

"Even amid a slowdown, the U.S. economy supports a healthy commercial Darwinism in which stronger stores devour the weak [stress added]". Lorrie Grant, 2001, One Store's Death Is Another's Opportunity. April 16, 2001, USA Today, page 8B.

Late in 2001, we can read about the problems associated with too much specialization in the non-biological world: think, for example, about recent problems facing states which generate a great deal of revenue from tourism or conventions:

"Across the country, the struggle for normalcy is still being lost on the convention front. New Orleans, Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas have all been hit by a rash of cancellatopms and no-shows. Between the closing economy and the aftermath of terrorist attacks, the convention industry expects revenue to drop to about $76 billion this year from $96 billion last year, according to the Convention Industry Council, which is in McLean, Va." David Barboza, 2001, Rash of No-Shows at Conventions. The New York Times, October 23, 2001, page A16.

Consider the impact of depending on a single revenue stream for the state of Nevada:

"Nevada lost the revenue from some 78,000 visitors when hundred of conventions scheduled through the end of October [2001] were canceled. The state, which collects no income tax, relies on taxing tourists for 75% of its general revenue [stress added]." Paul Magnusson et al., 2001, The Squeeze of the States Just Got Worse. Business Week, October 15, 2001, page 50.

Say one had "specialized" in the stock market with a single stock. Consider the words from Time of October 15, 2001:

"Here's a revealing tale that was on everyone's lips in the financial world last week. If you invested $1,000 in Nortel Networks a year ago, you would have stock worth $82. If instead you spent $1,000 on Budweiser [beer] and drank it, you would have not just the obvious reason to smile but a subtle one too. On the basis of a nickel-per-can deposit, the empties would be worth $91. How's that for a New Economy slap in the face? [stress added]." Daniel Kadlec, 2001, Back in Fashion: Dividends. Time, October 15, 2001, page 108.

I am definitely not encouraging beer drinking as a form of "investment" but too much "specialization" can be dangerous and damaging and diversity is crucial. In 1972, the distinguished anthropologist Gregory Bateson [1904-1980] provided us some very profound words:

"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself. If, now, we correct the Darwinian unit of survival to include the environment and the interaction between organism and environment, a very strange and surprising identity emerges: the unit of survival turns out to be identical with the unit of mind [italics in original; stress added]." Gregory Bateson, 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 483.

With a proper reading and understanding of Charles R. Darwin's Origin we improve our chances of success into the future. This includes learning how Origin came to be published, what science was like, and knowing what the times were like. With all of this, we can learn how to properly interpret the past, judge the present, and understand ourselves in looking towards the future! That is why "Darwin lives" today and why it is important to properly contextualize the changes in Charles R. Darwin over time. A proper reading and understanding of Charles R. Darwin's Origin is the reason that "Darwin lives" today (and will be read in 3101 and decades in between).

# # #


On October 17, 2000, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 89,300 items; Northern Light had 45,508 items; All The Web had 52,940 items; Alta Vista Search had 2,760,910 items; Iatlas.com had 1,860,208 items; Raging Search had 25,581 items; and MonkeySweat had 53,469 items!

On October 17, 2001, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 120,000 items; Northern Light had 51,939 items; Alta Vista Search had 65,975,088 items; and MonkeySweat had numerous items!

Two things should be obvious: (#1) interest in Darwin continues and (#2), obviously, just as with people, all "search engines" are not created equal and there is "cultural selection" involved in everything we do! How does one "evaluate" and "use" this wide range of information? One does it just as Darwin did, carefully, patiently, and slowly, for as Darwin wrote:

"False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness: and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened." Charles R. Darwin, 1871, The Descent of Man And Selection in Relation to Sex[1981 Princeton University Press edition, with Introduction by John T. Bonner and Robert M. May], Chapter 21, page 385.
# # #

1. © [All rights reserved.] For a presentation [with videotape and slides] on October 25, 2001 at the combined "Anthropology Forum" and CAPE [Center for Applied and Professional Ethics] session at California State University, Chico. The overall CAPE theme is "Darwin at the Millennium" and other speakers in this series will be Dr. Kristina Schierenbeck (Biological Sciences) on November 8, 2001 ("Evolution in 2001") and Dr. Joel Zimbelman (Religious Studies) and Dr. Lisa Gannett (Philosophy) in Spring 2002 ("Philosophical, Ethical and Religious Implications of Evolution"). Darwin is everywhere; consider the following from an "actor" portraying Charles Darwin: "You see, every so often Mother Nature changes her animals, giving them bigger teeth, sharper claws, longer legs, or in this case, a third eye. And if these variations turn out to be an improvement, the new animals thrive and multiply and spread across the face of the earth." Episode 7F01, Two cars in every garage and three eyes on every fish. Ray Richmond & Antonia Coffman, Editors, 1997, The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (NY: Harper Colins), page 38. To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

NOTE: Today's presentation included videotape segments and slides and is obviously part of a larger piece. The same visuals were shown on October 19, 2001 (at the "Chico State Retired Faculty Association" meeting) and some will be shown again on November 4, 2001 (at the Unitarian Fellowship of Chico). However, different "words" were prepared for both of these public presentations and, while (of necessity) there will be some overlap, you are invited to examine those two web sites:

2001a http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinRetFacOct2001.html (Charles R. Darwin: Comments on a Fulfilled Life.)

2001b http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/FA2001Unitarian.html (Darwin, Dying, and Death: Philosophical Perspective[s], November 4).


http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/WordsOnAnnie'sBox.html [September 2001 words on Annie's Box].

http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/SP2001DarwinPhil108.html [Spril 2001 Presentation for PHIL 108 @ CSU, Chico]

http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/SoAmGIslands.html [July 2000 Galápagos Islands Trip]

Darwin 2000-2001 [Self]Test One [If you are interested, you may wish to take a "Darwin Self-Test."] 

http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/darwinvisualsonly.htm [November 2000} Charles Darwin-Related "Visuals" Only]

http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Darwin2000.html [November 2000 presentation with complete listing of all Urbanowicz papers relating to Darwin to that date, including numerous other WWW references].

http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Darwin1965WWSC.html [June 1965 undergraduate outline for SPEECH 100, Western Washington State College, Bellingham, Washington [now Western Washington University], June 30).

http://rce.csuchico.edu/rv/Darwin/Darwin3.ram [Charles Darwin: - Part Two: The Voyage (2001). ~Twenty-two Minutes. Darwin from South America, through the Galápagos Islands, and back to England.] Edited by Ms. Vilma Hernandez and Produced by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico. Available via the Internet with REAL PLAYER [http://www.real.com/player/index.html.

http://rce.csuchico.edu/rv/Darwin/DarwinVoyage.ram [Charles Darwin: - Part One: The Voyage (1999). ~Twenty-two Minutes. Darwin sailing from England to South America.] Produced and Edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico. Available via the Internet with REAL PLAYER [http://www.real.com/player/index.html.

http://www.rce.csuchico.edu/rv/Darwin/DarwinReflections.ram [Charles Darwin: Reflections - Part One: The Beginning (1997). ~Seventeen Minutes. Darwin in England]. Produced and Edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico. Available via the Internet with REAL PLAYER [http://www.real.com/player/index.html.  

Other WWW References:

http://darwin.ws/day/ [Darwin Day Home Page]

http://www.galapagos.org/cdf.htm [Charles Darwin Foundation, Inc.]

http://www.aboutdarwin.com/ [About Darwin.com]

http://www.gruts.demon.co.uk/darwin/index.htm [The Friends of Charles Darwin Home Page]

wysiwyg://5/http://www.iexplore.com/multimedia/galapagos.jhtml [The Galápagos Islands!]

http://www.natcenscied.org [The National Center for Science Education]

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/ [September 2001 PBS Television Series on "Evolution"]

http://www.dimensional.com/~randl/scopes.htm [The Scopes "Monkey Trial," or "A 1925 Media Circus"]

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/inherit/1925home.html [Inherit/1925]

http://www.darwinawards.com/ [Official Darwin Awards} "...showing us just how uncommon common sense can be." Wendy Northcutt, 2000, The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action (Dutton).

# # #

 [~7,072 words]

To go to the home page of Charles F. Urbanowicz.

To go to the home page of the Department of Anthropology.

To go to the home page of California State University, Chico.

[This page printed from http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinForum2001.html]

Copyright © 2001; all rights reserved by Charles F. Urbanowicz

25 October 2001 by cfu

# # #